03/28/09

Economists Optimistic As Spending Rises

The Oregonian ran an AP story this morning reporting that consumer spending has increased two months in a row in January and February despite falling incomes.

This is after a “half year of declines”.

The bad news is that the story was buried on page 7 of the Metro section, which is now page one of the Business section. Anyone who has been paying any attention lately has to have noticed that the Oregonian is becoming thinner and thinner. Most of their problems are because of competition from the internet. But, the recession adds significantly to their woes as advertisers cut their ad budgets.

The irony is that they add fuel to their problems by sensationalizing the bad news week after week, while treating the best news in months like it was hardly worth mentioning. This, by the way, isn’t unique to the newspaper. Their broadcast counterparts are just as guilty.

I’m not suggesting the irrational notion that the media’s reporting caused the recession or can fix it by merely reporting positive news. But, consumer confidence and spending play a huge part in recovery. And the media’s obsession with sensationalizing the bad and burying the good ultimately has an effect on consumer confidence.

And their sales departments wonder what can be done to increase ad revenues? Start with the editorial department.

Legitimate bad news needs to be reported relative to its impact on the public. But, after months of nothing but bad news, this glimmer of good news is big news— and it deserves more than page 7 of the Metro section.